On Thursday 22nd May 9pm (BST) Al Jazeera English broadcast Ancient Enemy, a documentary about leprosy, as part of their Lifelines series.

Lifelines: The Quest For Global Health is Al Jazeera's new cross-platform project profiling the extraordinary work of global health workers as they tackle eight deadly diseases and conditions that afflict vulnerable communities across the globe.

Over 230,000 people worldwide are newly diagnosed with leprosy each year, and an estimated three million live with permanent disabilities.

India accounts for 58% of the newly diagnosed leprosy cases, despite it being declared ‘eliminated’ as a public health problem in 2005.

The stigma of the disease is one of the greatest challenges in today’s fight against leprosy. Shunned by their families and communities, many people lead lonely and isolated lives, and in some cases, try to commit suicide.

The film follows Rajni Kant Singh, Lepra state coordinator for the Indian state of Bihar, and Rachna Kumari, a Lepra community health worker who had leprosy and suffered great stigma because of it.

The film also visits Bhola, a teenage boy who was diagnosed with leprosy at only three years old. 

These Health Heroes lead the fight against stigma, prejudice and discriminatory laws to ensure that future generations no longer suffer from the consequences of this ancient disease.

Watch the film